MIKE ASHLEY is set to pocket £17m despite the £300million Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United falling through.
The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), along with Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers, paid that figure as a deposit.
However the consortium has pulled out of the deal, blaming the prolonged process and the current circumstances relating to coronavirus.
Mike Ashley will still be £17m better off despite the curtailment of the takeover – 17 weeks after paperwork was first lodged.
That five per cent figure was agreed when the sale price was set at £340m – with it later dropped to £300m due to the affect of the coronavirus crisis – but the deposit remained the same.
A PIF statement read: “With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.
“We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position its history, tradition and fans merit.
“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained.
“Particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.
“Time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19.”
The takeover has been dogged by trouble from the outset.
A number of charities called for it to be blocked because of human rights abuses committed by Saudi Arabia
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The Gulf state has also been embroiled in a piracy row with Qatar, with the Prem previously trying to take legal action against Saudi Arabia for illegally steaming of top-flight matches throughout the kingdom.
It also claimed that Ashley has been in talks with American Henry Mauriss for since the beginning of July.
Mauriss launched his own bid last month and denied to SunSport that he is being secretly backed by Qatar.